It’s 2018, and yet while science may have made leaps and bounds in understanding epilepsy in the past century, taking it from the days when it was associated with demonic possession and sufferers were often subjected to life threatening exorcism rites to an age where it can at least be monitored, there remains no absolute cure, and public awareness and knowledge has barely seen it destigmatised beyond the rude stereotypes of which sadly still permeate some corners of our popular culture.
One can assume that’s what inspired Lainie Chait and director Clare Pickering to bring Electro Girl to the intimate upstairs state of The Butterfly Club.
It opens with a sickly-looking Chait stumbling through the audience, greeting the guests, before falling into a demonstration of what has plagued her more than three hundred times for real in her life; a grand mal seizure. It’s a shocking awakening to what we’re about to be talked through, but one done always with gentle humor and self-deprecating irony.
Remerging as Electro Girl, in her dazzling jumpsuit, Chait and her brain, Nora, talk to us intimately and candidly through twenty-six years of epilepsy.
It’s not unlike your average biography, all the usual psychological conditions are evident; youth, fomo, a poor grasp of the not-naïve reality of casual sex, alcohol and recreation drugs, all of which exacerbate anxiety and self-loathing in any and all of us. For Chait, this came coupled with another condition, and at this we are about to be sweetly but thoroughly schooled. All the while, there is the presence of a perfectly average life…
She talks us through her failed relationships, we’ve all had them, but not with the struggles caused by medication and the occasional post-orgasm convulsions to boot. She tells us about her private journal, most of us kept one, albeit not one full of medical advice and minutiae chronicling her struggles with a brain that tends to “hiccup”, as she says. This is a life story, quite a normal one at that, but with the addition of a struggle also not so uncommon, but one seldom seriously spoken of. It gives all of us the chance to ponder epilepsy and come to grips with just how normal it can be. There were moments anyone can relate to, balanced with moments of extraordinary accomplishment in the face of an unfair diagnosis. But, then again, if anyone can have most of Lainie’s life, then those with the rest of it can live as successfully and richly as she has.
Thank you, Lainie.
Written by Max Davine